Weaponizing Walls: Trump, the Border, and Its Scars (with Dr. Ieva Jusionyte), an episode of Declarations: The Human Rights Podcast

In this episode we discuss how the infrastructure of the US-Mexico border wall has become a weapon in and of itself. Since Trump’s campaign promise, “the wall” has captured onlookers’ horror and imagination. It is a frontline for so-called wars on drugs, terror, and migrants, but resistance to it is also a frontline in the fight for human rights. We explore the impact of the wall as weaponised infrastructure – not only a deadly symbol, but also a physical object that shapes the lives of those at or around the border. Our guest for the episode, Dr. Ieva Jusionyte, has worked as an emergency responder on both sides of the border in Arizona and Sonora. She is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Harvard, and Editor of the University of California Press Series in Public Anthropology. Her most recent book, Threshold: Emergency Responders on the US.-Mexico Border is written from the perspective of firefighters and paramedics working along the border.

Music by Blue Dot Sessions, Borrtex, and Seed A.I.

Op-ed in Los Angeles Times: Fractures, trauma, amputations: What medics see when they rescue migrants at the border

FEB 17, 2019 | 3:15 AM 

We found her in a ditch a few steps away from the rusted border fence on the east side of Nogales, Ariz., an inch-and-a-half laceration on her swollen forehead. She came from Guerrero, one of the most violent states in Mexico, and could not remember how she landed on the rugged surface after her grip on the top of the barrier failed and she fell.

Six firefighters carried her to the ambulance, which took her to a helicopter bound for the regional trauma center in Tucson. Captain Lopez recorded the incident in the logbook when we returned to the firehouse: “1107 Medic 2, Engine 2: Dead End Freeport — Jumper/Head Injury.” This was two lines below an entry logged earlier that morning, for a teenage boy who had come down with a 102-degree fever while locked in a cell at the Border Patrol station after agents apprehended him in the desert: “0951 Medic 2: 1500 West La Quinta Rd — High Fever.”

Continue reading: https://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-jusionyte-border-emergency-responders-20190217-story.html

What Emergency Responders Face on the US-Mexico Border

Listen here to the interview for The Takeaway on PRI/WNYC/WGBH aired on November 20, 2018.

In 2017, 415 migrants died on the border, according to the International Organization for Migration. As of 2016, the U.S. Border Patrol employed more than 4,100 first responders, 730 emergency medical technicians and more than 70 paramedics. That response force is assisted by local fire departments, ambulances, and volunteers. 

Harvard professor Ieva Jusionyte has worked as an emergency responder in both northern Mexico and in southern Arizona while conducting fieldwork — and she says responders are often stretched thin. She compiled her research and experiences into a new book, “Threshold: Emergency Responders on the US-Mexico Border.”

How the U.S.-Mexico Border Became a Political Flashpoint (by John Donovan, HowStuffWorks)

"[The border] became this site, an object, a metaphor even, where we misplaced very real economic insecurities and social anxieties," Jusionyte says. "So it is the wrong answer to very important questions about the conditions of our society." 

Read the story here: https://history.howstuffworks.com/american-history/us-mexico-border-became-flashpoint.htm 

Research article "The Wall and the Wash" published in Anthropology Today

Based on ethnographic research with firefighters trained as EMTs (emergency medical technicians) or paramedics in northern Sonora and southern Arizona, this article in Anthropology Today takes the vantage point of emergency responders on both sides of the US-Mexico border to trace the harmful effects of the security assemblage on those who inhabit and trespass this militarized landscape. Interested in the materiality of security – how its discursive and affective qualities are anchored in urban and desert terrain by means of infrastructure and technology – this article focuses on two such ‘anchors’, the wall and the wash, in order to address the legal and ethical issues that result from the deployment of tactical infrastructure on the border.